Next up in our series on womxn doing big things in cannabis is Kristen Stangel, founder of LYTE™ Herbals.
Kristen proves that even a pandemic can’t hold you back when you have a bold idea and the guts to see it through. As a queer cannabis consumer, she found a niche in the smokable CBD space to make her mark and create an inclusive community. She’s definitely one to watch! Without further ado, let’s jump into the interview.
Kristen, thanks for (virtually) chatting with us today! Tell us a little bit about you, your role at LYTE™ Herbals.
I was in healthcare for 9 years before I made the transition into the CBD industry and founded LYTE™. I was craving change, and I definitely got it. One week I was treating patients, and the next week, I was at a 300-acre hemp farm in Northern Colorado. Though it has been a wild ride, I’ve truly found a new passion. I love nerding out on the medicinal qualities of the plant, the cannabis community is so fun to be apart of, and every bit of progress you make in a start-up feels so gratifying. Being a founder, I’ve done a bit of everything. I am a master of none, but I love the challenge.
What inspired you to found the company?
My wife and I started growing our own cannabis plants a few years ago, and that was my first inspiration. However, I really have to smoke a specific strain for it to work for my body chemistry, and I tend to get too high very easily. I really wanted a smokable product that put me in my sweet spot. When I looked for these products, as a queer woman, there were very few smokable CBD brands that I resonated with. I didn’t want to hold a box covered in hemp leaves filled with bleached hemp cigarettes. I really wanted a product that would make consumers feel sophisticated and sexy.
Additionally, I noticed the lack of diverse and inclusive marketing with this type of product– So then came LYTE! We want to supply the highest quality smokable products to the underrepresented demographic. The day-to-day operations can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, but I try to make one meaningful connection each week. Whether it is with a follower, brand, or charity, these small steps will ensure we truly achieve our vision of creating a brand that stands for more than its products.
What’s a big win you celebrated at LYTE™ Herbals in 2020 so far?
Launching! We had some significant delays due to the pandemic, but we made it. When our first batch was ready to go, my whole team stood around the loading dock and smoked together. After many bumps and bruises in creating a new company, this moment felt so good.
Are there any women in the cannabis industry that you think of as mentors, or are inspired by?
Jane West. I met her in a bathroom at a conference I attended, and she was one of the keynote speakers. She had so much personality in our brief interaction, and after hearing her speak, I was so inspired by what she has done in the cannabis space. She is the definition of an innovator.
You can pick one celebrity to work on your team at LYTE™ Herbals. Who do you hire?
Jenny Lewis. She is my favorite musician, but she also has her own pre roll line. We could smoke and work and it would be pure bliss.
Where do you see LYTE™ Herbals five years from now?
I would love to see LYTE’s product line expand and for us to become a top CBD cigarette brand.
Tell us something we should know about LYTE™ Herbals (that we might not be able to find out from your website).
Since we believe in providing the cleanest smokable products on the market, we chose to source our hemp from a certified organic farm until our farmland in Colorado becomes certified organic. There are so many companies misleading consumers, and we have chosen to be incredibly transparent about our processes. Oh, and one of my very best friends, Steph Sizemore, designed LYTE.